The ‘Takhellei nachom’ art more beautiful than the diamonds in the neck.
‘Takhellei’ is perhaps the most romanticized flower in Manipur. Scientifically named the ‘Hedychium coronarium’ and commonly known as the ‘Butterfly ginger Lily’’, the flower is said to have it origins in the Himalayan region but have migrated as far as the Latin American regions like Brazil, Hawaii and Cuba. Closure home, in Manipur (a state in the North-eastern corner of India bordering Myanmar) it is known as ‘Takhellei’, a flower which has a strong emotional attachment to the people of the region. Known for its rich fragrance, the womenfolk of Manipur in the olden days adorn themselves with the aromatic flower, just as the Latinas were known to do in the Spanish colonial days. The beauty of the Takhellei seductively tucked in the ear, decorating the long, lustrous, cascading, black hair of the Meitei ladies adorned in ‘Phige phanek’ (a wrap around garment worn by Manipuri ladies) and the sensuous ‘Moirang phi’ (a translucent shawl) is a sight that have evoked romance and inspired eulogies over ages in the days of yore. It was enough to send the ‘Meitei pakhangs’ (bachelors) swooning in the olden days and crooning “Takhellei Nachom na napada” (a popular Manipuri song). Although it is a rare sight to come by in these modern times of the jeans clad damsels, it can still be noticed in ‘Lai haraoba’ (Meitei festival) and sometimes in weddings when the ladies don the breathtaking traditional dress and titivate their silken hair with a Takhellei ‘Nachom’ (flower adorned in the ear). I bet it still tugs the heart strings of the Meitei nupas (Manipuri males) even today.